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Stalin writes to PM opposing some provisions in Indian Ports Bill

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Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K.Stalin today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his opposition to certain provisions in the revised draft Indian Ports Bill-2022, including the attempt to make the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC) a regulatory body for minor ports as it would encroach upon the powers of the States.

In a Demi-Official letter to the Prime Minister, copies of which were released to the media here, he drew his attention on the long-term impact of its intent to centralize and regulate the sector which is currently being administered by the State Governments.

“Even though some of the suggestions from the maritime States and other stakeholders have been accommodated, I am afraid that the revised draft Bill still largely continues to ignore international and domestic experience that ports are best managed by local and regional governments”, he said.

Pointing out that the growth trajectory of India’s port sector clearly shows that the non-major ports managed by the maritime States have grown faster than the major ports under the Centre, the Chief Minister said this was because the maritime States facilitated the growth of non-major ports through private investments and business -friendly policies.

Many such States, especially Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra pioneered such facilitatory development of minor ports and have contributed to an increasing share of maritime cargo handling, he added.

“I wish to point out that this draft Bill will stifle such state-specific initiatives by imposing a centralized regulatory regime on non-major ports”, he said, adding, the most significant change is the attempt to make the Maritime MSDC a regulatory body for minor ports.

“Currently, it is only an advisory body and converting it into a regulatory body with permanent staff will surely encroach upon the powers of States. This may end up choking the future development of minor ports”, Stalin said.

He said in addition, the proposed composition of MSDC, with five Secretaries and one Joint Secretary to the Union Government along with the Administrators of the coastal UTs, as members, is inappropriate as it excludes the Secretaries in charge of ports in the maritime States/UTs.

“Like the GST Council, the MSDC must continue only as an advisory body with the Ministers concerned of the Union and the Maritime States/UTs as Members and officers should only be special invitees”, Stalin stressed.

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